Quote Of The Year

Quote Of The Year - Paul Shetler - "Its not Your Health Record it's a Government Record Of Your Health Information"

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Macro View – Health, Financial And Political News Relevant To E-Health And The Health Sector In General.

July 26, 2018 Edition.
Last week was truly spectacular for Trump from a failed humiliating summit in Helsinki, backflips by the dozen,  threats to almost totally block Chinese trade and the discovery of tapes of he and his lawyers organising to pay of mistresses. What a sad pathetic and ignorant leader he is.
Brexit seems to be imploding as each day passes and where it will lob in the end who knows.
In Australia, by the time you read this we will only be days away from the 5 by-elections. The outcome is likely to change our politics all the way till the next general election.
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Here are a few other things I have noticed.
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Major Issues.

  • Updated Jul 15 2018 at 11:09 PM

Banks face cash squeeze as fund managers, households draw deposits

Australia's banks will be forced to find an additional $70 billion of funding as superannuation funds shift out of cash into international assets while indebted households draw down on their savings.
The widening of the so-called "funding gap", which measures the difference between bank loans and deposits, comes amid a crisis-like blowout in short-term funding that is increasing bank funding costs and has already prompted the non-major banks to enact "out-of-cycle" mortgage rate rises.
The gap between loan and deposit growth has increased from $390 billion in the second quarter of 2017 to $457 billion in the first quarter of 2018, resulting in an additional funding bank requirement of $60 billion to $70 billion, according to analysis by National Australia Bank economists.
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Digging up a lot more coal won't bring more jobs

By Ross Gittins
16 July 2018 — 12:05am
One thing I admire about greenies is their soft hearts. Whereas big business pushes its self-interest to the exclusion of all else, environmentalists worry that, in their efforts to save the planet, some workers may lose their jobs.
What worries me, however, is the greenies’ soft heads. Many of them profess to a soul above such sordid (and boring) matters as economics, but the less you know about economics the more easily you’re taken in by developers’ and politicians’ promises of Jobs and Growth. 
Greenies know that the “green economy” creates jobs and growth, but worry that their opposition to the building of new thermal coal mines would cost jobs and growth.
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Brake on Australia's addiction to property has come just in time

By Jessica Irvine
15 July 2018 — 9:47pm
Another Saturday, another sign Australia’s property price boom is well and truly over – for now, at least. Only half the properties that went to auction in Sydney and Melbourne on the weekend found buyers. Australian property owners are waking up to the mother of all housing debt hangovers. That’s what happens, you see, when you go on an unprecedented credit binge, fuelled by cheap credit and loose lending standards.
We’re just starting to realise the extent of the binge that has occurred over the past half decade. Sure, some increase in borrowing was to be expected when interest rates fell to record lows. But systemic issues in the way debt has been sold to Australians have begun to emerge.
The banking royal commission is proving well worth the cost to taxpayers, exposed myriad problems in Australia’s home loan market. These include mortgage brokers with a direct financial incentive to push ever bigger loans and repeated failures by banks to comply with “responsible lending” laws designed to ensure borrowers are not sold debts they can’t afford.
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The regulation ride is coming back in

  • The Australian
  • 6:18AM July 16, 2018

Alan Kohler

On Friday, Microsoft called for government regulation of facial recognition technology.
This was a tremendously important development, both in the specific and the general, and it’s also an opportunity for the Australian government to get ahead of the game — or to stay behind it as usual.
We’re talking about the ability of a computer to recognise faces, either in a photo or through a camera, in real time. As Microsoft president Brad Smith wrote in a blog post on Friday: “Facial recognition technology raises issues that go to the heart of fundamental human rights protections like privacy and freedom of expression.
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The $247 trillion global debt bomb

Robert J. Samuelson Columnist July 15 at 7:31 PM
The untold story of the world economy — so far at least — is the potentially explosive interaction between the spreading trade war and the overhang of global debt, estimated at a staggering $247 trillion. That’s “trillion” with a “t.” The numbers are so large as to be almost incomprehensible.
Households, businesses and governments borrow on the assumption that they will service their debts either by paying the principal and interest or by rolling over the debts into new loans. But this works only if incomes grow fast enough to make the debts bearable or to justify new loans. When those ingredients go missing, delinquencies, defaults and (at worse) panics follow.
Here’s where the trade war and debt may intersect disastrously. Since 2003, global debt has soared. As a share of the world economy (gross domestic product), the increase went from 248 percent of GDP to 318 percent. In the first quarter of 2018 alone, global debt rose by a huge $8 trillion. The figures include all major countries and most types of debt: consumer, business and government.
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posted on 16 July 2018

July 2018 World Economic Outlook Update: Less Even Expansion, Rising Trade Tensions

from the International Monetary Fund
Global growth is projected to reach 3.9 percent in 2018 and 2019, in line with the forecast of the April 2018 World Economic Outlook (WEO), but the expansion is becoming less even, and risks to the outlook are mounting. The rate of expansion appears to have peaked in some major economies and growth has become less synchronized. In the United States, near-term momentum is strengthening in line with the April WEO forecast, and the US dollar has appreciated by around 5 percent in recent weeks.
Growth projections have been revised down for the euro area, Japan, and the United Kingdom, reflecting negative surprises to activity in early 2018. Among emerging market and developing economies, growth prospects are also becoming more uneven, amid rising oil prices, higher yields in the United States, escalating trade tensions, and market pressures on the currencies of some economies with weaker fundamentals. Growth projections have been revised down for Argentina, Brazil, and India, while the outlook for some oil exporters has strengthened.
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The powerful combination that gives US the edge over China

By Peter Hartcher
17 July 2018 — 12:20am
When speaking of the future power balance in the Indo-Pacific, Hugh White likes to reduce all the complexities and debates to a single, simple chart. White, a prominent ANU professor of strategic studies, directs you to page 26 of the federal government's white paper on foreign policy. There you'll find the Australian Treasury's projection of the size of the region's economies a dozen years from now. Seven purple blobs represent the expected scale of seven regional economies. The chart foresees that America's economy will have annual output of $US24 trillion ($32 trillion). Enormous, right?
Yes, but on the chart it's overshadowed by a much bigger one. China's economic output is projected to be $US42 trillion at the same time. Once he's given you a moment to absorb the scale of China's expected economic preeminence in 2030, White tells you: "Everything else is detail."
A nation's economy is the fundamental generator of the resources a country can marshall, he reasons. China will be able to mobilise much more money, investment, weaponry, technology and aid than the region's next biggest power.  China, therefore, will win the 21st century, says White.
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Energy plan keeps the coal fires burning as long as possible

By David Crowe
16 July 2018 — 7:25pm
Australian households must prepare for a mammoth overhaul of the nation’s electricity grid as investment surges into renewable energy, sparking a new call to keep coal-fired power stations running for decades to help with the transition.
The nation’s energy market operator has warned that Australians are exposed “more than ever” to the risks and costs of the disruption as it sets out a series of major projects needed to improve the capacity and reliability of the electricity grid.
With almost 80 per cent of new energy projects using wind and solar generation, the peak regulator has outlined a sweeping investment plan including new transmission lines, battery storage and expanded hydro-electric projects to cope with the change.
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Shares could fall '10 to 15 per cent': world's biggest fund manager fears Wall Street rout

By Annie Massa & Erik Schatzker
17 July 2018 — 9:26am
BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink said that intensifying global trade tensions may spur a broad market downturn and a slowdown in the US economy.
Stocks could drop 10 per cent to 15 per cent and US gross domestic product would start slowing in 2019 if the Trump administration sees through its threat to levy tariffs on an additional $US200 billion ($270 billion) of Chinese imports, Fink said, adding that would elevate the current tensions to a full-blown trade war.
"The market's having a hard time digesting the whole change in globalisation and trade," Fink said in an interview on Bloomberg Television.
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Passive savers hit as banks slice rates on deposits

By Clancy Yeates
17 July 2018 — 11:00am
In the past fortnight, Australia's two biggest banks quietly inflicted a much bigger hit on savings account interest rates than they would dare make to mortgage rates.
It received little attention in the media, but the Commonwealth Bank and Westpac slashed  0.3 percentage points off  "base" rates for online saver accounts to a miserable 0.5 per cent. Similar cuts have occurred at rival big four banks in the past year, even though official interest rates have not budged.
Confusingly, however, a growing number of smaller banks are starting to pay more for term deposits. The industry is also grumbling about the increase in funding costs - a trend that generally pushes deposit rates up, now down.
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Investors should heed the danger signs in debt market

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM July 17, 2018

Roger Montgomery

Over the last 18-or-so months I’ve been concerned over the blind chase for higher yields and what I see as the late stages of a credit cycle. The period of ultra-low rates, lax lending standards and booming debt issuance is just about over, and when it ends it will take with it the fuel that has driven global asset prices higher — that’s everything from houses and property to fine art, collectibles and the bond market.
Since the GFC we have seen spectacular growth in the corporate debt market, reflecting exuberance as investors chased higher yields than the punitive returns available on cash.
Historically, as debt increases so too does the spread between junk bonds or high yield bonds and treasury bonds. This is normal and reflects the fact that rising debt on weak company balance sheets increases risk through the rising magnitude of potential defaults.
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Superannuation’s decade of failure exposed

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM July 17, 2018

Anthony Klan

Five million superannuation accounts holding $260 billion and managed by the Big Four banks and financial services companies AMP and IOOF have delivered average annual returns less than the risk-free “cash” rate over the past decade and many have performed below the rate of inflation.
Audited performance data provided to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority by Westpac, NAB, CBA, ANZ, AMP and IOOF shows the biggest super fund operated by each of those institutions delivered total average annual returns to members of 2.1 per cent to 3.1 per cent over the decade to June 30 last year.
At the same time, the average annual rate of return on risk-free “cash” investments was 3.8 per cent, meaning the owners of those five million super accounts would have been better off had the money been placed in low-interest term deposits or invested in government bonds.
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  • Updated Jul 18 2018 at 8:09 AM

Global fund managers turning bearish

Global fund managers have turned bearish, significantly lowering expectations for corporate earnings over the next year, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
"Investor sentiment is bearish this month, with survey respondents eyeing the risks from a possible trade war," said Michael Hartnett, BAML's chief investment strategist. "Equity allocation has fallen notably while growth and profit expectations have slumped."
The bank's latest survey found that a trade war remained the biggest tail risk cited by respondents at 60 per cent, followed by a Federal Reserve or European Central Bank hawkish policy mistake at 19 per cent and a euro or emerging market debt crisis at 6 per cent.
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  • Jul 18 2018 at 11:00 PM

Healthcare deal rush has plenty more steam

The global healthcare deal frenzy is set to continue for at least another 18 months as technology giants including Amazon, strategic players and private equity firms step up their fight for limited assets.
That is the view of MinterEllison healthcare partner Shane Evans, who also expects Australia's healthcare and adjacent sectors will be a hive of activity for some time to come.
"[Elevated transaction activity] is here to stay even for the medium to long term," he said. Australia was getting "outsized attention" relative to the Asia-Pacific region.
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Donald Trump has sparked 'global rethink' on dealing with US: Labor's Penny Wong

By David Wroe
18 July 2018 — 6:11pm
Labor has sounded a clear warning to United States President Donald Trump that he cannot afford to corrode alliances with like-minded democracies, saying a "global rethink" about how to work with the superpower is already underway.
The party’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong has also called for the Turnbull government to establish an infrastructure investment fund dedicated to the Pacific region.
Senator Wong told the United States Studies Centre at Sydney University on Wednesday night that Mr Trump’s ditching of international agreements and his punitive trade measures against US allies was nothing less than a rejection of international rules and norms.
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Tender will allow Coalition to dig its way out of coal hole

By John Hewson
18 July 2018 — 11:48pm
The federal government desperately needs a cut-through strategy on energy policy. The divisions within the Liberal Party, and between the Liberal and National parties, won’t go away, even though they are costing them electoral support and may ultimately cost them government.
Perhaps the most direct and effective mechanism for the government to cut through, and demonstrate the authenticity of its claim to be “technology agnostic”, would be to announce a tender to meet its future, carefully specified, power requirements, establishing a genuine competitive process, encouraging all parties to give it their best shot.
This could be the simplest and quickest mechanism to end the faux coal vs renewables contest, and should be seen as a genuinely conservative solution.
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Amnesia' may lead to another economic crisis, fear GFC veterans

19 July 2018 — 9:44am
Architects of the government's response to the last financial crisis worry the country is ill-equipped to handle another, fearing an "amnesia" has taken hold of policymakers, regulators, and the public that could lead to the next panic.
Four former regulators and treasury secretaries, once prominent but now faded from public view, said in the past week they hoped to use the 10-year anniversary of the Great Recession to force a public debate about how to prevent another crisis from ravaging the economy, particularly by forcing regulators to remain vigilant and giving them flexibility to move swiftly.
Former US Treasury secretaries Henry Paulson and Timothy Geithner and former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke met with reporters to discuss a September summit they are hosting to review lessons learned - both good and bad - from the crisis.
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'Less predictable and less committed': Bishop's pointed speech on 'disruptive' US

By Nick Miller
19 July 2018 — 5:02am
London: Donald Trump’s America is challenging the international order that brought peace, stability and prosperity after World War II, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said.
On Wednesday in London, Bishop made a speech that was occasionally frankly critical of the tactics, policies and strategies of our closest ally, the United States.
US President Donald Trump says he misspoke when he sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin over US intelligence in regards to 2016 election tampering accusations.
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It’s simple: big fees lead to low returns, experts say

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM July 19, 2018

Anthony Klan

One of the world’s top experts on superannuation has called out claims from the major banks and financial services giants AMP and IOOF that it is “factually incorrect” or “misleading” to use the officially audited data, which they are legally required to file with the regulator, to judge their ­performance.
University of NSW Business School academic Kevin Liu, who earned his PhD investigating superannuation fund performance — and is a former internal researcher for banking and super watchdog the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority — said that the data was in fact the most accurate way to ­determine the performance of major funds.
“The theoretical argument is there can be many reasons for the underperformance of the retail funds … such as that analysis ‘doesn’t compare apples with apples’,” Dr Liu told The Australian.
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  • Updated Jul 19 2018 at 11:45 PM

Biggest solar deal: BlueScope to use 500,000 solar panels

BlueScope Steel will on Friday sign the largest solar power purchasing deal ever by an industrial energy user in Australia, to lock into cheap renewables generation and rein in its energy costs which have ballooned by more than $50 million in the past two years.
The seven-year contract will underpin a new 500,000-panel solar farm to be built in the NSW Riverina district by ESCO Pacific and will cover a fifth of all the steelmaker's Australian electricity purchases.
John Nowlan, head of Australian steel products at BlueScope, said the supply will sit alongside the steelmaker's existing arrangements for round-the-clock power to feed its plants.
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  • Updated Jul 20 2018 at 11:45 PM

Managing foreign interference and multiculturalism

by Anthony Bubalo
Not long ago I listened to four Australians of Chinese heritage speak at the Lowy Institute about the impact on their communities of the foreign interference question. Some of the issues they raised were similar to those articulated by Muslim Australians when they talked about the effect of terrorism on their relationship with broader society.
There are important differences between terrorism and foreign interference, as there are between Chinese and Muslim communities. But there are also lessons from Australia's management of terrorism that should be applied to how we approach foreign interference.
The Australian government has defined foreign interference as "covert, deceptive or threatening actions by foreign actors who intend to influence our democratic or government processes or harm Australia". Although the government has said it is concerned about a range of foreign actors, it is the activities of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that are its main concern.
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Get on board with China or miss out, former World Bank vice-president warns

By Eryk Bagshaw
21 July 2018 — 12:05am
Australia should accommodate China's expansion and tone down its rhetoric or risk missing out on a decade-long economic windfall, the former chief economist of the World Bank has warned.
Cautioning that a perception of Australia being "uncomfortable" with China's rise had reached Beijing, Justin Yifu Lin - the former senior vice-president and chief economist of the World Bank - said the resources sector would pay the price for Canberra's actions.
"What is the purpose for Australia to stop the rise of China? You are not a hegemony," Professor Lin said.
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Trade war remains the biggest threat to Australia

By Simon Cowan
20 July 2018 — 11:00pm
Between the NATO stoush and Donald Trump seemingly taking the word of Russian leader Vladimir Putin over that of the United States security services, you could be forgiven for thinking these are the biggest threats to the established world order.
This is not the case. As important as these security issues are, from an economic perspective the biggest threat to Australia's prosperity remains the potential for a trade war that destroys the rules-based global trade system.
Trump's imposition of tariffs, and the likely escalation of trade hostilities between the US and China, are not the first steps away from free trade. But they are some of the most decisive.
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'It's our version of the GFC': warning on looming interest-only crisis

By Caitlin Fitzsimmons & Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon
21 July 2018 — 12:56pm
Australia’s version of the sub-prime crisis that ushered in the global financial crisis could be looming, with a significant number of the 1.5 million households with interest-only loans likely to struggle with higher repayments, experts warn.
Martin North, the principal at consultancy Digital Finance Analytics, said interest-only loans account for about $700 billion of the $1.7 trillion in Australian mortgage lending and it was “our version of the GFC”.
“My view is we’re in somewhat similar territory to where the US was in 2006 before the GFC,” Mr North said.
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Australian governments concede Great Barrier Reef headed for 'collapse'

By Nicole Hasham
20 July 2018 — 7:30pm
The world’s climate change path means the Great Barrier Reef is headed for “collapse” according to a plan endorsed by state and federal governments that critics say turns a blind eye to Australia’s inadequate effort to cut carbon emissions.
The federal and Queensland governments on Friday released a “new and improved” Reef 2050 Plan to save the iconic natural wonder, which explicitly acknowledges climate change poses a deadly threat to the reef.
The comments depart starkly from previous official efforts to downplay damage wrought on the reef for fear of denting the tourism industry.
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Australia displays growing firepower as China watches on

By David Wroe
22 July 2018 — 12:15am
The Australian Defence Force has deployed  new surveillance planes to help sink a ship in live fire drills with the US and Japan that experts say shows a significant readying for high-end warfare.
In a demonstration of force that will have been watched closely by China, one of Australia’s new P-8 Poseidon aircraft fired a Harpoon missile as part of a barrage of firepower to sink the USS Racine, a decommissioned American navy ship.
The way the Racine was sunk was particularly significant because it also involved the launch of missiles by the US and Japan from trucks on land in Hawaii, consistent with a US military doctrine that the respected American site DefenseNews reported had been developed to deny China control of the South and East China Seas.
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Trump and Brexit: Existential crisis torments great democracies

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM July 21, 2018

Paul Kelly

The West lives through an era where democracy is under serious threat from within given the two great democracies — Britain and the US — are sunk in existential trauma over separation from Europe and the Trump phenomenon respectively.
It is folly to think Australia is immune from the democratic malaise. Our problems and our symptoms are different, yet serious. But our mood of dispirited indifference is far distant from the existential crisis that torments the two nations Australia used as models when writing its constitution in the 1890s.
The two specific triggers for the British and US traumas are mismanagement of globalisation and immigration, areas where Australia has largely avoided the same mistakes. From the 1980s onwards Australia’s embrace of economic liberalism was tied to social-democratic distribution of the benefits. Our immigration policy has been tied to strong border protection and government control of entry in the national economic interest. Our results are not ideal — but far distant from the virulent political revolts that triggered Brexit and drove US President Donald Trump’s election.
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Financial Royal Commission Issues.

How common is corporate crime? Too common

By Ross Gittins
18 July 2018 — 12:00am
If we’re to believe what we see in the media, we’re being engulfed by a corporate crime wave. An outbreak business lawlessness that engages in “wage theft”, mistreatment of franchisees, abuse of workers on temporary visas, and much else.
But should we believe it? Regrettably, my years as a journalist have taught me not to believe everything I read in the paper (this august organ excepted, naturally).
News gathering is a process of what when I was an accountant I would have called “exception reporting”. That’s because people find the exceptions more interesting than the ordinary, everyday occurrences.
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  • Jul 18 2018 at 11:00 PM

APRA backs banks' right to profits

The banking regulator has backed the banks' right to make a profit and take enforcement action when borrowers can't repay loans, in a powerful defence of the industry delivered to the Hayne royal commission.
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority has also reminded Commissioner Ken Hayne that sometimes tough decisions have to be made by the banks to protect depositors and ensure the financial stability of the Australian economy.
"At its most basic level, an Authorised Deposit-Taking Institution's business is to take money on deposits and make loans to generate a profit," APRA said.
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  • Updated Jul 19 2018 at 5:00 PM

The Hayne inquiry isn't as revolutionary as APRA fears

Commissioner Kenneth Hayne could be forgiven for feeling a certain weariness as he skims through the banking regulator's earnest defence of one of a basic – and uncontested – principle of the banking system: that lenders have the right to enforce their security when borrowers can't repay loans.
For some unknown reason, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority decided it was appropriate to deliver a lecture to the Hayne royal commission on how banking works in a capitalist economy.
"At its most basic level, an Authorised Deposit-Taking Institution's business is to take money on deposits and make loans to generate a profit," APRA declared its submission to the royal commission's fourth round of public hearings, which looked closely at farming finance.
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National Budget Issues.

'Evidence lacking': Auditor-General criticises cashless welfare card trial

By Eryk Bagshaw
17 July 2018 — 5:57pm
The federal government has little chance of finding out if the first three years of its controversial $18 million cashless welfare card trial have been a success because the department running it failed to deliver a cost-benefit analysis and gave misleading statistics to the minister in charge.
The findings of a $483,000 audit by the Australian National Audit Office released on Tuesday have been accepted by the Department of Social Services and are likely to be latched onto Labor to ramp up concerns about the card as it campaigns in the relatively high-welfare electorates of Longman and Braddon.
The card prevents 80 per cent of all disability, parenting, carers, unemployed and youth allowance payments from being withdrawn as cash or used to gamble, buy drugs or alcohol.
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Health Budget Issues.

Private health insurance rankings to give consumers more information about coverage and benchmarks

By political reporter Matthew Doran
15 July, 2018
Private health insurance premiums will be ranked in a bid to help consumers figure out exactly what they are paying for, from April next year.

Key points:

  • The changes will result in more cancer treatments being covered by private health
  • Greg Hunt says the changes will give consumers more information about their coverage
  • Labor says the Government is not doing enough to get rid of policies that provide little coverage
The Federal Government has unveiled the new categories — gold, silver, bronze and basic — for the more than 70,000 private health insurance policies around the country, held by about 13 million Australians.
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Tier system for private health insurance

Health Minister Greg Hunt says a new tier system will show people what they are paying for. (AAP)
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt will unveil a system gold, silver, bronze and basic tiers for medical procedures covered by private health insurance.
Updated 15 July, 2018
The federal government is introducing a new system to allow private health insurance consumers see exactly what their policies cover "on a single page".
Health Minister Greg Hunt on Sunday unveiled the minimum hospital treatments covered by the new policy bands -- Gold, Silver, Bronze and Basic -- due to come in next April.
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Greg Hunt's private health insurance overhaul accused of inflating costs

Labor says pregnant women and those needing kidney dialysis, cataract surgery and joint procedures may pay more
Chronic pain sufferers and pregnant women could be forced to pay for more expensive private health insurance under reforms announced by the government on Sunday.
On Sunday the health minister, Greg Hunt, unveiled a new tiered system of minimum hospital treatments covered by private health insurance policies.
The system includes four bands of coverage – gold, silver, bronze and basic – designed to make it easier for consumers to know what their private health insurance premiums will cover.
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July 16 2018 - 5:31AM

Small funds to be spared Labor cap: report

Bill Shorten could exclude small health funds from Labor's proposed two per cent premium cap.
Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten has reportedly told small health insurers they will not be hit by Labor's proposed two per cent cap on premium increases.
The lobby group which represents 23 smaller health funds met with Mr Shorten in June, when he provided them with "very strong reassurances" that the cap would not be directed at them.
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AHPRA inks information-sharing deal with police

But the watchdog says there's 'nothing to be concerned about'
16th July 2018
AHPRA says doctors have “nothing to be concerned about” in a deal it has inked with police to share information about alleged sexual offences or other crimes.
Last week, the watchdog announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Victoria Police to “enable greater cooperation which will see the public better protected”.
Under the deal, Victoria Police agrees to inform AHPRA of any allegations or evidence that “concerns the health, performance or conduct of a registered health practitioner ... that may, or is likely to, detrimentally affect his/her practice of a health profession”.
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Bill Shorten pushed for answers on 2pc health cap

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM July 17, 2018

Joe Kelly

Bill Shorten is facing calls to explain how he will shield smaller and not-for-profit health insurers from his 2 per cent cap on premium increases amid concern that any modifications would unleash a wave of unintended consequences.
The Opposition Leader yesterday confirmed he was working to protect smaller funds after The Australian revealed he had given a private assurance last month to soften the policy for some regional and not-for-profit health funds favoured by unions.
Health Minister Greg Hunt accused Mr Shorten of entering into a “secret deal with his union mates” while Malcolm Turnbull argued the Opposition Leader was “limbering up for yet another policy backflip” after previous retreats on company tax and the abolition of cash refunds for excess dividend imputation credits.
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International Issues.

  • Jul 15 2018 at 5:00 PM

Donald Trump casually demolished the UK-US special relationship

The vast "long library" room at Blenheim Palace is a magnificent setting for a black-tie dinner.
Donald Trump could only have been impressed by the grandeur of Winston Churchill's birthplace as he and 150 of the UK's business and political leaders sat in the room graced by a statue of Queen Anne at one end, a mighty organ at the other and layers of well-dusted books on the walls. Outside, what were royal hunting grounds for 1000 years have been transformed by Churchill's ancestors into beautiful formal gardens and lawns easily able to accommodate armies of presidential helicopters.
During the dinner of Scottish salmon and Hereford beef, Trump stepped out to visit the side rooms commemorating Churchill's life and strength in resisting Hitler. This included recordings of some of the most famous wartime speeches of the master of English oratory.
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Mueller's stark choice for Trump: take on Putin or be branded a coward

By Matthew Knott
Updated 14 July 2018 — 5:31pm first published at 3:43pm
New York: Robert Mueller has snookered Donald Trump spectacularly.
A mere three days before Trump was scheduled to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, the special counsel has provided the public with the most comprehensive official account of how the Russians conspired to hack the 2016 election.
The indictment issued against 12 Russian intelligence officers on Friday, local time, offers Trump a simple choice for the Helsinki summit: to aggressively rebuke Putin - both in rhetoric and policy terms - or to look a coward and a dupe in front of the whole world. Trump's existing tactics on the topic of Russian interference - denial, diversion and obfuscation - will no longer cut it.
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Trump's Europe tour a 'theatre of the grotesque'

By Nick Miller
14 July 2018 — 12:30pm
London: "There's no use trying," said Alice; "One can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said Trump. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
Donald Trump’s press conference with Theresa May was another demonstration of his White Queen tendencies. He has no time for facts. They sometimes get in the way of stories about how great he is, which is the kind of story he loves to hear, and to tell.
On Friday he told a story to gathered journalists that they all knew and which showed how great and smart he is.
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China growth slows to 6.7pc in second quarter

  • Chao Deng
  • Dow Jones
  • 12:52PM July 16, 2018
China’s economic expansion slowed a notch in the second quarter, as a top-priority government debt clean-up took its toll even before growth takes an expected hit from the trade fight with the US.
The economy grew 6.7 per cent in the second quarter from a year earlier, down slightly from 6.8 per cent in the quarter before that, the government’s statistics bureau reported.
The pace was in line with market expectations. For the first half of 2018, the economy grew 6.8 per cent from a year earlier.
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  • Updated Jul 17 2018 at 7:26 AM

Donald Trump sees no reason to distrust Vladimir Putin about US election hack

US President Donald Trump emerged from a meeting with Vladimir Putin on Monday saying he saw no reason to believe Russia had hacked the 2016 US presidential election, and the Russian leader "was extremely strong and powerful" in denying it.
Trump held his meeting just days after a special prosecutor in the United States indicted 12 Russian agents for stealing Democratic Party documents to help him win the vote.
At a rambling news conference after one-on-one talks, Trump said not a single critical word about Russia on any of the issues that have brought relations between the Washington and Moscow to a post-Cold War low, from Ukraine to Syria.
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  • Updated Jul 17 2018 at 8:08 AM

Republicans slam Donald Trump as 'weak,' 'cowardly' in Putin summit

Leading US lawmakers, including numerous Republicans, harshly criticised President Donald Trump on Monday for failing to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin over Moscow's meddling in the 2016 US election as the two presidents of nuclear powers stood side-by-side at a joint press conference.
Trump, speaking in Helsinki after his first summit with Putin, said he saw no reason to believe his own country's intelligence agencies over the Kremlin leader's assurances that Russia did not interfere in the U.S. election.
A wave of condemnation immediately followed, with lawmakers calling Republican Trump "weak" and "cowardly," while Senator John McCain said the summit was "a tragic mistake."
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  • Updated Jul 17 2018 at 8:14 AM

The Trump Doctrine: coherent, radical and wrong

by Gideon Rachman
Since the end of the Second World War, there has been a remarkable consensus within the US establishment about foreign policy. Republicans and Democrats alike have supported a global network of American-led alliances and security guarantees.
Leading figures in both parties – from John Kennedy to Ronald Reagan through to the Bushes and Clintons – agreed that it was in US interests to promote free trade and democracy around the world.
Donald Trump has taken an axe to this Washington consensus. The US President's departure from the established principles of American foreign policy is so radical that many of his critics dismiss his ideas as simply the product of a disordered mind. But that is a mistake. There is an emerging Trump doctrine that makes internal sense. There are four broad principles underpinning this approach.
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  • Jul 17 2018 at 10:28 AM

Donald Trump is nothing short of treasonous

by Thomas L. Friedman
From the beginning of his administration, President Donald Trump has responded to every new bit of evidence from the CIA, FBI and NSA that Russia intervened in our last election on his behalf by either attacking Barack Obama or the Democrats for being too lax -- never President Vladimir Putin of Russia for his unprecedented cyber hit on our democratic process.
Such behaviour by an American president is so perverse, so contrary to American interests and values, that it leads to only one conclusion: Donald Trump is either an asset of Russian intelligence or really enjoys playing one on TV.
Everything that happened in Helsinki on Monday only reinforces that conclusion. Americans are in trouble and have some big decisions to make. This was a historic moment in the entire history of the United States.
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IMF delivers stark warning on Trump tariffs

By Eryk Bagshaw
16 July 2018 — 9:20pm
The International Monetary Fund has warned US President Donald Trump's trade dispute with China is putting global growth at risk and urged governments to start putting money away to protect  against a downturn.  
In a report due to be released on Tuesday, the Washington-based global financial watchdog described Mr Trump's policies as "protectionist" and said "retaliatory measures by trading partners have increased the likelihood of escalating and sustained trade actions".
The IMF's comments come as Trade Minister Steve Ciobo heads to London to shore up trade deals outside the US and local analysts canvass the possibility of an interest rate cut from its current record low of 1.5 per cent to cope with an economic downturn.
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White House orders direct talks with Taliban on Afghanistan

By Mujib Mashal
16 July 2018 — 2:09pm
Kabul: The Trump administration has told its top diplomats to seek direct talks with the Taliban, a significant shift in US policy in Afghanistan, done in the hope of jump-starting negotiations to end the 17-year war.
The Taliban have long said they will first discuss peace only with the Americans, who toppled their regime in Afghanistan in 2001. But the US has mostly insisted that the Afghan government must take part.
The recent strategy shift, which was confirmed by several senior American and Afghan officials, is intended to bring those two positions closer and lead to broader, formal negotiations to end the long war.
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  • Jul 18 2018 at 6:13 AM

Donald Trump says he accepts US intelligence but denies any collusion

by John Wagner and Felicia Sonmez
Seeking to quell mounting criticism after the Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump said he accepts the US intelligence community's conclusion that Russia sought to influence the 2016 election.
"I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place. Could be other people also. A lot of people out there. There was no collusion at all," Trump said before a meeting with Republican members of Congress at the White House.
Trump also said he misspoke at the joint news conference with Putin on Monday and that he meant to say he didn't have any reason to doubt Russia interfered in the election.
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  • Updated Jul 18 2018 at 7:53 AM

Donald Trump bolsters 'Russia has kompromat' narrative

by Aaron Blake
There was a time when the Steele dossier's alleged, lewd tape of Donald Trump in a Moscow hotel room was something we didn't talk about. Then James Comey made it not-so-taboo.
Now the broader idea that Russia has compromising information, or kompromat, on Trump has moved even more to the forefront. And it's all thanks to Trump's decision to hold a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin - and then practically bow to him.
The thing about Trump's posture toward Putin isn't just that it's highly controversial and questionable given Russia's 2016 election interference; it's also totally counter to Trump's brand. This is the guy who wrote the "Art of the Deal" and, just days before his meeting with Putin, was wrecking shop at a NATO summit in hopes of getting fellow members to kick in more for the common defense.
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  • Updated Jul 17 2018 at 6:18 PM

Donald Trump debases himself, his country and the West

Even for a President who has relied on anti-establishment shock tactics as much as Donald Trump has, this was unprecedented.
In Helsinki, the holder of the world's highest political office has crash-tackled his own team in public, pairing up with Russian President Vladimir Putin at an international summit to take sides against his own intelligence agencies in their investigation into Russia's manipulation of his election.
It brings Mr Trump's innumerable political conflicts of interest to a head: he has recruited the autocratic ruler of America's greatest rival into his domestic political fights.
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'Politics of fear': Obama gives Trump sharp rebuke in Mandela address

18 July 2018 — 3:21am
Johannesburg: Former US President Barack Obama took aim at "strongman politics" in his highest-profile speech since leaving office, urging people around the world to respect human rights and other values now under threat in an impassioned address marking the 100th anniversary of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela's birth.
While not mentioning his successor by name, Obama's speech in South Africa countered many of President Donald Trump's policies, rallying people to keep alive the ideas that Mandela worked for including democracy, diversity and tolerance.
Obama opened by calling today's times "strange and uncertain," adding that "each day's news cycle is bringing more head-spinning and disturbing headlines". These days "we see much of the world threatening to return to a more dangerous, more brutal, way of doing business," he said.
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  • Jul 19 2018 at 9:16 AM

Donald Trump a sad, embarrassing wreck of a man

by George Will
America's child president had a play date with a KGB alumnus, who surely enjoyed providing day care. It was a useful, because illuminating, event: Now we shall see how many Republicans retain a capacity for embarrassment.
Jeane Kirkpatrick, a Democrat closely associated with such Democratic national security stalwarts as former senator Henry Jackson and former senator and former vice president Hubert Humphrey, was President Ronald Reagan's ambassador to the United Nations.
In her speech at the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, she explained her disaffection from her party: "They always blame America first."
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Judge orders alleged Russian agent Maria Butina jailed

By Sarah N. Lynch
19 July 2018 — 6:00am
Washington: A federal judge on Wednesday ordered accused Russian agent Maria Butina jailed until her trial after US prosecutors argued she has ties to Russian intelligence and poses a serious flight risk.
The Justice Department said Butina has been in contact with Russian intelligence operatives, kept contact information for several Russian agents and had a handwritten note in her Washington apartment asking how to respond to an offer of employment with a Russian intelligence agency.
Robert Driscoll, the lawyer for Maria Butina who is an accused Russian agent, said his client was "innocent of the charges" brought against her.
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Trump: Insult, grudging apology, double down. Repeat.

By Marc Fisher
18 July 2018 — 11:45pm
As a young man on the make in Manhattan, as a political candidate and as president, Donald Trump has relied for half a century on a basic rule of behaviour: to win, one must never apologise.
But sometimes life offers no choice but to back down, and when that happens to Trump, he has crafted a method of apology that is equal parts retreat and doubling down.
On Tuesday, President Trump felt compelled to pull back on his statement in Helsinki on Monday that embraced Russian President Vladi­mir Putin's version of the 2016 presidential campaign interference story over the facts presented by US intelligence services.
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  • Updated Jul 20 2018 at 6:44 AM

Donald Trump invites Vladimir Putin to the White House later this year

President Trump asked John Bolton, his national security adviser, to invite President Putin to Washington later this year and those discussions are already underway, the White House said.
Earlier in the day, Trump rejected Putin's proposal that Russian authorities be allowed to question American citizens, the White House said, after the offer drew fierce criticism in the United States.
The invite to Putin comes four days after Trump held a summit with the Russian leader in Helsinki.
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  • Updated Jul 20 2018 at 10:32 AM

Why Donald Trump is all over the place on Russia

Trump, Putin lash out over summit fallout
by David Sanger and Matthew Rosenberg
Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 election.
The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Putin, who had described to the CIA how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.
Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on January 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.
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  • Updated Jul 20 2018 at 11:00 PM

Why the idea of a Deep State is thriving

by Jeffrey Fleishman
We are in a deep state time of conspiracies and invisible hands. Or so it seems.
Donald Trump tweets about vast plots against him. Fox News sees conniving spies and Washington bureaucrats hatching covert schemes to bring down America. Orwellian podcasts muse on the end of days and "Why Big Brother is smiling." And Steven Seagal, the martial arts actor and Russian apologist, has written his own deep state novel, with a foreword by Trump's favourite sheriff, Joe Arpaio.
The deep state is a potent, if shadowy, narrative in our bitter cultural wars. It is likened to a dark force, unknowable and unseen, manipulating our national fate. It brims with the ominous aura of a Twilight Zone episode, an intricate labyrinth unfolding beyond our grasp. Its most common definition is a cadre of military, intelligence and security officials working as a parallel power inside the government to control policy.
There are other meanings too, depending on one's suspicions and political leanings. In his novel, A Delicate Truth, John le Carre casts the deep state as an ever multiplying legion of "non-governmental insiders from banking, industry and commerce". Seagal's book, The Way of the Shadow Wolves: The Deep State and the Hijacking of America, co-authored with Tom Morrissey, a former US marshal, suggests the threat of wars and imperiled economies emanate from a network that encompasses "one of the world's largest churches and one of its most powerful families".
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  • Updated Jul 21 2018 at 3:48 AM

Donald Trump threatens to impose tariffs on all Chinese imports

US President Donald Trump said he was ready to impose tariffs on all $US500 billion of imported goods from China, threatening to escalate a clash over trade policy that has unnerved financial markets.
"We're down a tremendous amount," Trump said in an interview about trade imbalances with China on CNBC television broadcast on Friday. "I'm ready to go to 500."
His comments worried investors already grappling with the impact of a strengthening US dollar on corporate results, and key stock indexes on Wall Street dropped at the open on Friday.
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I look forward to comments on all this!
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David.

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